Being vulnerable. Yes, vulnerability is a sign of strength. Contrary to this, though, people I know and work with have the belief that vulnerability is a sign of weakness. They believe that if someone shows inability, uncertainty, or asks for help – that these are signs of weakness.
Through my experience as an executive coach I have come to learn that being vulnerable is a sign of strength. It takes courage to admit uncertainty, being unsure; asking for help. People with courage are in fact strong. The ability to admit one does ‘not know’ shows they are confident enough in themselves to be honest. Though they may open themselves up to ridicule or attack, they are strong enough to risk the attack; they are strong enough to handle an attack. The strong person is confident and certain in themselves to be able to handle what comes from their openness.
“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness.”
Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
Being vulnerable also says ‘I know myself’. The person who can admit to vulnerability exhibits self-awareness and an ability to know who they are and who they aren’t. Being self-aware helps people experience true freedom as they do not have to hide behind a wall of self-protection.
Vulnerability also signals a very high level of trust and respect for the person one is being vulnerable towards. For leaders in business, being vulnerable means they are free to admit they may not have all of the answers. It means others can step up and contribute – resulting in better employment engagement.
It’s not about telling everything to everyone – it’s about sharing appropriately with those worthy of trust.
I felt the most vulnerable in my life when I became single again after 26 years, when I moved to a new country where I knew a handful of people, and when I started my Executive Coaching business after decades in multinational organizations. When I look at each of these events in my life, I can see that not one was a time of weakness; in fact they were times of risk and my greatest courageousness. These were also the times I asked for the most help, looked for new ideas and ways of doing things, became creative and bold, looked at myself and where I needed to grow.
Where in your life would it be courageous to be vulnerable?